Kerry, Clark Split N.H. Endorsements

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By: Sonya Moore

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

The Iowa caucus is now old news with the New Hampshire primaries looming. This week E&P surveyed the Granite State’s dailies to find out whom they have or will be endorsing as Democratic presidential candidate.

The tally: Kerry 2, Dean 1, Lieberman 1, Clark 1 and the rest undecided or choosing not to endorse. Late Wednesday afternoon, after a long debate, the Portsmouth Herald (Click for QuikCap) remained “deadlocked,” said Howard Altschiller, the executive editor. “I think we take our responsibility seriously,” he explained.

The thrice-weekly Exeter News-Letter has endorsed former Gen. Wesley Clark. In addition, The Boston Globe (Click for QuikCap) and the Boston Herald (Click for QuikCap) — which have large New Hampshire readership — both endorsed Kerry this week.

The Concord Monitor (Click for QuikCap) and Nashua’s The Telegraph (Click for QuikCap) are endorsing Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), who came out on top in Iowa. After conducting interviews with the candidates, the editorial board of The Telegraph had an hour-long meeting not only discussing the strength and weaknesses of each candidate, but also the likelihood of waging an effective campaign against President Bush, said Editor David Solomon.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean now has The Keene Sentinel (Click for QuikCap) behind him. The paper’s editorial board held meetings with candidates but “ultimately the publisher holds power,” said Tom Kearney, executive editor. “But he encourages discussion.”

The Union Leader (Click for QuikCap) in Manchester threw its historically influential support to Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.) this week. Executive Editor Charles Perkins explained that though the editorial page is known for being “conservative Republican,” the paper felt an obligation considering “we know that many of our readers are Democrats and independents.” The publisher holds the final call, and Perkins said the paper came “quite comfortably” to its choice of Lieberman, “whose deep convictions and leadership abilities were admirable.”

Most of the newspapers remain undecided, however. Like the Portsmouth paper, Claremont’s Eagle Times (Click for QuikCap) is still in the process of discussing it, according to Publisher Harvey Hill. The paper is under common ownership with a weekly in Lebanon, N.H., that has decided to endorse retired General Wesley Clark, but “I try to keep an independent newsroom,” said Hill.

Foster’s Daily Democrat (Click for QuikCap) in Dover expects to make its decision soon. “I suspect we will be endorsing later this week,” said John Breen, editorial editor. The Laconia Citizen (Click for QuikCap), whose parent company also owns the Daily Democrat, could not be reached for comment.

The Valley News — which covers Hanover and Lebanon as well as Vermont border towns — has not made an endorsement. Conway Daily Sun (Click for QuikCap) Publisher Mark Guerringue told E&P the paper will endorse Clark.

The Berlin Daily Sun (Click for QuikCap) has opted to not endorse any candidate. Managing Editor Rose Dodge explained, “We’re a small local publication, and we don’t endorse because it would be presumptuous of us.”

The Laconia Daily Sun, an affiliate of the Conway paper, also chose not to endorse a candidate — for the moment. “That could change if things got too crazy,” said Editor and Publisher Edward Engler.

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